Thursday, October 31, 2019

Self Portrait

With Jack-O'- Lantern head.

Happy Halloween!

🎃  🎃  🎃

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Yard Critter - Flat-Faced Longhorn Beetle

Saperda imitans.

A somewhat rare, as per BugGuide, beetle. This one came to our mothing sheet in May.

The website, American Insects, does not even show it as being in New Jersey.* And BugGuide has only three images from New Jersey, including mine.

You might think that given all the free time I have these days I'd have gotten around to this critter much sooner. I think that too. But here we are in October. I have just way too many pictures to get to.

And I would not have even paid attention to this beetle if not for Ann-Marie Woods pointing out the critters hitching a ride on this beetle. Thanks Ann-Marie.

🐞  🦂  🐞  🦂  🐞

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

* I sent them an email to update their range map, and they replied that it is now on the to do list for the site. 

Yard Critter - Pseudoscorpion


These critters are phoretic, in which one critter travels on another without being parasitic.

And you can see that's exactly what these two are doing. Hitching a ride on this Flat-faced Longhorn Beetle.

Insect air travel, a much more efficient mode of transport for a critter with such small legs.

Looks like a tiny gymnast on the high bar.

And by "tiny" I mean ~ 5 mm. That's tiny. But if you bigafy the above images you'll see white spots on the Pseudoscorpion. Parasites? Other hitchhikers? Pollen grains? Alas, the image resolution is not sufficient to determine.

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that these critters will be identified to species. But if you want to try, here's a link to an online key. Good luck!

🦂  🐞  🦂  🐞  🦂

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Yard Critter - Woody Woodpecker

More accurately known as a Pileated Woodpecker.

Once considered rare in these parts, we've seen them every year since we moved here. When we first started reporting them in eBird we needed to provide additional info, such as a photo, to "prove" we actually saw this species.* We, and presumably others, have reported it so often such proof is no longer required.**

This bird, a female, spent a good fifteen minutes in the yard from when I spotted her. Going from tree to tree looking for food. Rarely holding still long enough for a good photo, nor sitting in a clear spot. So I put the camera down and picked the binoculars up and just enjoyed her visit. I hope she becomes a regular visitor.

To that end I made and installed this suet feeder, based on plans I found on the interwebs. But so far the only birds I've seen using it are the Tufted Titmouses. I'l keep watching ...

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

🐦  🐦  🐦  🐦  🐦

* I reported one on a Monday a couple years back, with a picture, and again on the subsequent Wednesday, sans photo. An eBird reviewer sent me an email asking for more info to 'prove' I saw the bird on Wednesday. I referred the reviewer to my Monday report. I'm still waiting to hear back.

** I spoke to the current eBird reviewer for our area, not the same person as in the previous note, who confirmed that the bird had been reported often enough to remove the rarity designation. Very cool.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Rain Dance

This Carolina Wren was on the deck just outside my home office window, doing a little "rain dance" spinning around and fluttering its feathers.

Eventually it wandered under the deck railing and flew off.

It was fun to watch. But it didn't have any noticeable effect on the rain.

Steam Clean

That's some serious drying going on there.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hiding in Plain Sight

Can you see it?

I was out in the yard, looking for whatever might be out there. And something just caught my eye. The prepared mind and all that.

See it now?


A Carolina Mantid, which may or may not be native to New Jersey.

🐞  🐞  🐞  🐞  🐞

As one might infer form the name, Carolina Mantids are native to the US. They are the state insect of South Carolina. And they naturally occur in New Jersey, having made their way to the state under their own power. But it can be (and has been) argued that if not for climate change, which is human caused, these insects would not survive the winter this far north. And thus by implication they are only here because of human intervention. This is problematic, as now any creature that moves north (or in the Southern Hemisphere, south) would by definition be non-native, regardless of how it makes it's way there. Which adds another bit of messiness to the definition of "native". Biology is fun!

Thanks to Steve Mason for very informative discussions on what it means to be 'native'.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Walking Whitesbog

It was a gorgeous day on Monday. So I went walking at Whitesbog. Here's some of what I saw.

I also saw this and this. It was a very nice change from walking up and down my street.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Whitesbog's Wilson's

Last week a visitor from the west spent a day at Whitesbog, which is practically our back yard (if you don't count all the other yards in-between).

A Wilson's Phalarope. A shore bird usually found west of the Mississippi (check out the range map by clicking the link).

Patty was alerted to its presence via one of the may bird alerts she subscribes to. And she alerted me. So I headed on over and she would meet me when she finished work.

The bird was in Union Pond. Not knowing which pond was Union Pond when I got there I drove around.

I was told the bird was "on mud". I found a bird on mud.

Bald Eagle

It was not a Phalarope. Still cool to see though.

Lesser Yellowlegs

This isn't a Phalarope either. But it's closer.

This is a Wilson's Phalarope.

As it this (the same one in fact). No longer on the mud, a strip of which can be seen in the foreground.

Turns out Union Pond is the first pond on the left as one leaves the village for the bogs.

Image courtesy whitesbog Preservation Trust
I had done a quick scan of the pond on the way in, but did not see the Phalarope, nor any other birds. But after touring all the other 'ponds' I found our friend Terry's (in the red shirt) truck parked at the southwest corner of the pond. "The bird is here" she shouted. And so it was.

Very cool.

So How ...

... did that turtle get up there?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Buck Hunting

It's buck season in these here parts.

Buck Moth that is.

Relatively large moths which can be found flying in oak forests during the day.

My pal Bernie had Monday off, something about working too much of late, and as I still have everyday off gave me a call. And off we went.

After spotting a couple of turtles, Eastern Painted and Snapping, and a snake (it was black) in the road we arrived a the hunting spot.

We were not disappointed. Well, maybe a little bit as the moths seemed to eschew sunlight. Didn't they know we were there for the photo op?

Sure, the sun is shining and the moth is nowhere to be seen.

But it is looking good for next year's hunting season though.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Bloom Time - Nodding Ladies' Tresses

Spiranthes cernua. A native Pinelands orchid.

Which is blooming in our bog garden as I type.

I'm not sure how it got there. I keep receipts for the plants I buy to plant in the bog. But I've not one for this plant. Nor do I remember planting this.

We have received plants from friends gardens. And as noted above I've purchased plants for the bog. So it's possible this was a hitchhiker. Or maybe it got here on its own. And maybe it's been here a while and with the deer fence finally has a chance to bloom.

However it got here were glad it did. And if this is what the deer fence allows I can't wait for next spring.